You’ve likely seen articles that discuss how disruptive technology solutions will impact business and how digital business tools will enable you to define new markets and processes. An unintended consequence of these articles has been creating concern and fear in business leaders who may not be ready to adopt any of these technologies or who misunderstand how they may impact their companies. Some of the technologies and terms include:
- The Industrial Internet of Things (projected to include 50 billion connected devices by 2020)
- Industry 4.0
- The digital economy
- The digital thread
- Bimodal operations
As a business leader, you’re charged with setting direction, tone and processes. And as difficult as it is, you need balance in your approach. That includes keeping an eye on thought leadership and strategies and staying focused among the noise and shiny new objects. Don’t lose sight of what you need to accomplish, both near- and long-term. To do that, ask yourself a key question:
Will this investment improve our top or bottom line growth?
If the answer is no—then why would you consider the investment?
If the answer is yes, the next steps are to categorize short- and long-term projects and keep them aligned. To do this, focus on methods, tools and outcomes.
For example, data collection is a tool. The data collection platform defines the methods of data collection including configurability and applicability to your business processes. The outcome of data collection is greater bottom line efficiencies.
To demystify some of the drivers of digital transformation listed above, apply the same focus on methods, tools and outcomes. The digital thread is an information pathway connecting various tools and methods. Bimodal operations are a method and the Industrial Internet of Things is comprised of different tools. The outcome of combining the tools with the method using the digital thread can lead us to increased top or bottom line growth and in many cases, both.
If you think of your projects using the methods, tools and outcomes approach, you’ll define what’s critical now, as well as how those methods, tools and outcomes fit into a longer term strategy.
Digitize at Your Own Pace
One word of caution: don’t get lost in the hype and don’t get concerned that you’re too far behind to make an impact. You don’t have to become the poster child for Industry 4.0 within a year. You can start your journey now and allow it to evolve as needed.
Be smart with your approach. It’s easier to start small and expand than to take on too much and fail.
Consider this potential starting point: digitize a process that is currently completed on clipboards and then filed away. If this data is important enough for an operator to write down a clipboard, you’ll likely gain exponential value from that data being available digitally.
Data collection is another great place to start the journey. The device you collect with and software you use (the tools) will define the data collection practices (the methods) you will be able to deploy. The outcome is immediate benefits, both inside and outside the physical walls of your enterprise.
The tools you select today will define the methods and outcomes you will be able to achieve tomorrow. Make sure the tools selected will enable continuous process improvement to help meet the always-changing needs of the supply chain and satisfy the improvement of top and bottom line growth. It’s our job.
Learn how DSI can guide you through the digital supply chain transformation, no matter where you currently are in your journey.